How to Build a Better GSB
How to Build a Better GSB
I was listening to a professor lecturing her class about the media industry. Looking around, I could see many fellow students were checking their phones, daydreaming, or even fast asleep. I wondered whether this would be a good time for me to get some shut-eye, check my texts, or have a look at the news online. Then, I started wondering, how could I change this class so that students would actually feel engaged with it?
I’d like to share my opinions on the way in which Stanford GSB’s curriculum could be improved so that it is more appropriate to contemporary business and more engaging to students than at present. There are three main areas that I believe could bring improvements:
1. Experiential learning,
2. Forward-thinking electives, and
3. Workshop series.
A 2015 study from the University of Chicago found that “students who physically experience scientific concepts understand them more deeply and score better on science tests.” Most students enjoy class discussions, and it’s easier to remember things when we’re physically involved in the learning. Leadership Labs or Interpersonal Dynamics demonstrate how useful it is for students to partake in experiential learning — it’s one of the things that they will remember from their learning.
People often wrongly assume that classes like Money and Banking can’t incorporate a practical element. However, consider Operations. I have never forgotten the in-class exercise where we built paper houses, having to rely on our classmates to run a supply chain. In my current class, Entrepreneurial Finance, it’s been great to act out negotiations from both sides of the table with other students. This gave us a great insight into the different ways two sides of a negotiation can see the same term sheet differently.
I said above that the GSB curriculum needs to be improved so that it suits contemporary business requirements. There are two things that need to be done for that.
First, there should be more courses centered around biotechnology and life sciences. Of the ten biggest firms making investments in biotechnology, there are just two from California compared to six from Massachusetts. The Solve Innovation Fund, recently launched by MIT, is a ventures fund that channels investment to entrepreneurs seeking solutions to global problems related to life sciences, human health, and sustainability. Harvard has the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship, helping graduates of the Harvard Business School in setting up new endeavors based on developing life science technology. Essentially, Boston has made itself a center of life science and biotech development, and Stanford GSB must do the same if it is not to fall behind in this rapidly developing sector.
Secondly, more courses should address ecologically and socially responsible ways of doing business. The Nielsen Report states that “Brands that are able to strategically connect (sustainability) to actual behavior are in a good place to capitalize on increased consumer expectation and demand.” The current headlining environmental concerns offer businesses an opportunity not only to do good for the planet but a chance to seize competitive advantages. Stanford GSB has a motto of “Changing Lives, Changing Organizations, and Changing the World.” What better way of doing this than learning how to do business in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner?
When I started at GSB, I was astonished by how often students travel. One weekend it was New York, the next Miami, and, after that, Hawaii. As a result of our traveling culture, many new students feel pressured to go beyond their spending limits; otherwise, they risk falling behind in the social scene. Unfortunately, the GSB doesn’t offer any workshop that offers us guidance on how to manage the balance between social pressures and finances. It should.
As I was sitting in class, I was wondering whether to check the news and grab some shut-eye. Instead, I decided to write this article.